Monday, April 15, 2013

The True Confessions of a Recovered Farmville Addict

When I was in America almost everyone I knew was playing some sort of Facebook game. It was hard to ignore the fact that computer labs were full of people: not studying, but pursuing a career in bad-gaming: students clicking away lives on virtual restaurants, farms and fish tanks.

It was scary, foreign. I couldn't wrap my head around it. Then someone told me they were particularly “talented” at these games. I signed up for Farmville, simply thinking that I would figure out how to win and then leave. That was the plan, to prove that there was no such thing as being “talented” at virtual reality.

For those of you who don’t know, Farmville is a virtual game on Facebook that allows you to pretend to farm. Armed with a mouse and an easy user interface you can plough, plant, harvest and buy farm goods to your hearts content.  It also tries to rip off addicts by getting them to enter credit card details to buy flashier farm houses and more land.

It started innocently enough, a bit of tilling and planting, no real addiction. But then I started watching my leader board. I was thousands of points down.

I was going to have to up the ante. I started trading in hay bales for extra points, designing my farm for maximum productivity, and calculating the most profitable crops per hour.

I’m sure I don’t need to point out that it was becoming tragic.

But it didn’t stop there, it escalated. I feverishly monitored the farms of others. Harassed friends to join and visit my farm. At one point I had the log in details for several members of my family and I farmed their plots too.  I spent hours making symmetrical borders, purchasing pretty wells, and garden features.

I still hadn't realised how bad it was and people were starting to comment.

Then the most ridiculous sentences started rolling off my tongue.

-I can’t make that, sorry, I have to expand the farm.
-Damn is that the time, I need to go harvest my raspberries.

I spent an entire night buying and selling hay bales and went up at least three levels, a monotonous task that involved clicking and more clicking.

The next day the other addicts started asking questions.

-So how did you get so many points so fast?
-What were you doing, in one night, did you buy points?

I smiled knowingly at them all.

-Simple calculations, seeing as you’re so talented at these games I am sure you can figure it out.

Then it hit me, I was hoarding my Farmville secret. I thought I was really something. I had been sucked in. I noticed others avoiding me for fear I would spout feverish monologues about my farm. So I forced myself to quit the farm, to sell it all and step away from fake sheep and palm trees. I was never, ever playing another Facebook game again, any game for that matter.

A year later someone showed me word twist…and well….

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